1. Put "Meal Baskets" In Your Pantry: Just like laying your clothes out the night before you head off to work can help your morning routine, prepping your food can do the same thing. Inside each "meal basket" put all the dry goods needed for the meal along with a notecard of the additional fresh ingredients needed. It might not save you a million years of prep time, but it does save you the trouble of hemming and hawing over what to make and allows you to commit to cooking!
2. Shop Weekly: Growing up, my parents cooked at home almost every night of the week. Mom was a great shopper and hit up the grocery store every two weeks to take care of the bulk of her shopping. In today's world, I find myself shopping every few days. Both shopping strategies can have negative effects: either you don't have anything to cook and would rather just go out, or your fridge is so packed it seems like a hassle. Once a week shopping can be the easiest for meal planning and keeping things fresh.
3. Do The Dishes: Although many are trained in the art of ninja dish doing, I would rather do anything on the planet besides the dishes. Seriously, it's a problem. Doing them daily means you have a clean kitchen when you're ready to cook. It really is that simple.
4. Allow Yourself A Cheat Night: Going out to eat or ordering in isn't the end of the world and more often than not, it's downright tasty too. Cooking at home is fun, but taking a break is great. Plan on eating out one night a week, even two, and build it into your schedule so that the rest of the week you know what your meal plans are.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan: It goes without saying that for a week of eating at home to be successful you have to have planned in advance. You have to know what meals you or your family loves, plan them out and go to the store to purchase those items. Thirty minutes is all it takes each week, something that can easily be done during your favorite TV show. This step of planning is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself!
(Image: Faith Durand)